The force of the waves reflected the intensity of the early morning storms. The sun played peek-a-boo, though I longed for more peek than boo. A crisp seventy-five degrees filled the air but the wind coming off the waves made it feel much cooler.
Determined to make a dent in my memoir, words flowed freely from my pen as I watched Chris, the local lifeguard, drive up and down the shoreline on his four-wheeler looking for people. Double red flags notified the public that the water was forbidden.
Getting back in those seas after his mandatory training session earlier that morning was hopefully not on the agenda, Chris had shared with me. Before I began writing, he detailed his encounter with a scary rip current determined to test his training.
During a long hide behind the clouds with the sun none to eager to be found, I took a walk to the turquoise beach house that had become my landmark. A glance at the majestic sea and a pivot turned me back in the direction of my little oasis on the sand.
Randomly along the way I stopped.
Captivated by the open water, I soaked in the beauty and as much of the sun as it wanted to share. Bobbing in between the fierce waves, I saw a colorful round object.
Oh no, that’s a person.
No longer visible, I realized I was just seeing things until it popped up again.
Nah, it’s just a child’s ball lost to the ocean’s playground. Whew.
When it popped back up again, I knew, it was no ball. It was a person.
Go! Get Chris!
I ran as fast as my cardio deprived legs would take me.
In between my gasps for air he pointed.
Chris smiled and said, “That’s a lifeguard. He’s okay.”
I ran for nothing? Are you kidding me?
I was still doing deep breathing exercises when Chris pulled up next to me on the four-wheeler.
“Thank you so much,” he said.
“I went over there just to be sure and that was not a lifeguard.”
“No way!” I blurted out.
“So, we saved a life today huh, Chris?'
We both knew it was a bit of a stretch but he smiled and indulged my fanatical whim nonetheless.
The sand from beneath his four-wheeler spun up as he drove off and I began writing once again. But this time, I put down my manuscript for a fresh sheet of paper. I couldn’t get the scene that unfolded before me out of my mind.
Who was in the water? Why?
Who in their right mind would be in those seas willingly?
The warning flags were obvious and even if the person didn’t see them, the nearly empty beach and the crashing waves issued their own caution.
Some people refuse to heed the warnings.
Some simply don’t want to be rescued.
Worse than their own disregard is that they put other people’s lives at risk. Chris would have willingly put his life on the line for that man; physically pulling him from danger if necessary but he shouldn't have too. Thankfully that day he didn't and the man came on out of the water.
Though the man in the ocean may not have wanted to be rescued that day, he still needed to be. His life was of greater value than his intelligence.
I’d like to be like Chris Couse, the diligent lifeguard on duty that day, in my Christian walk and in my love for others. Just as he continuously patrolled the shore and cautiously scanned the water for anyone in harm’s way, so I long to have my eyes peeled for those being battered by the storms of life.
Even when he thought the person was safe, Chris checked to make sure.
He went back.
Do we assume the people we come across are okay or do we go back and check?
Our young people are hurting. They are confused and life’s waves are knocking them down.
Like the head I almost mistook for a ball, they may be hard to spot and they may not seem to want help.
As human beings and especially as Christians, are we like Chris on his lifeguard stand watching and listening? And, dear ones, should the call to action sound, are we ready and willing to jump in and extend the hand of grace?
Wherever we find ourselves today, may God help us to see them.